Two Months In Oregon

After two months in Oregon we are leaving this week and I haven’t written a word about our time here. What can I say? This blog is more about having a record for me to refer back to and it has been so valuable for that. Often times Steve and I will try to remember where we were at a certain time and this website answers our question.  I have some catching up to do here.

After not posting for a while there sometimes comes a day when I have an abnormally large amount of traffic to the site and my motivation returns for a bit. Over the years I have followed blogs that suddenly leave me hanging and it makes me kind of angry. Did they have an accident? Did they get divorced? Or worse, are they dead? Why don’t they say SOMETHING, ANYTHING?! Okay okay.

We are fine. No accidents other than another cracked windshield due to taking a nosedive into the only pothole in what must be the best maintained roads in all of the United States. Well, that did almost cause a divorce.

Our vow to not stay in anymore RV resorts or private RV parks has been kept and has been so very pleasant. So without yakking too much more, following are some pictures of where we have been:

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The Astoria-Kegler Bridge stretches over four miles crossing the mouth of the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon. This bridge has the longest continuous truss in the US. The mighty Columbia is mighty impressive!

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The end of July was blackberry season in the Pacific Northwest and they were everywhere, free for the picking. We had them at the historic Dismal Nitch rest area that is immediately before crossing the Columbia River into Oregon and we found more in Girabaldi, Oregon.

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This was our first time traveling the Oregon coastal highway north of Lincoln City and it did not disappoint; particularly on this stretch between Cannon Beach and Manzanita.

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Looking down on Manzanita and Nehalem

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One of the free overnight RV parking websites lists the Myrtlewood Factory in the port town of Girabaldi as a place to stay. It is a nondescript little parking lot on the highway. Not ideal. Noisy and very busy throughout the night with people pulling in and out as a turn around.

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While Steve leveled the motorhome I walked Molly and noticed a wooden ramp over the railroad tracks in the parking lot. At first I thought maybe it was for track maintenance workers as the rail bed was built up pretty high next to the factory. But Molly and I crossed the tracks and there was an asphalt trail bordered by high bushes full of ripe blackberries. We walked a little further and there was a snow white rabbit sitting on the path calmly looking at us. I stopped dead in my tracks and stared at him too. I didn’t want to scare him so turned around and went back to the motorhome.

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I showed Steve the trail and this time just a bit further on the bushes gave way to the bay and the rabbit who was now down on the beach surrounded by onlookers who also didn’t know what to make of him. This turned out to be a wonderful walk as it led us past an RV park on the water, the scenic harbor and pier. 

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This view is featured in many publications related to Oregon which can also be seen on this walk. It was late afternoon, the sun was in front of me, but I took the picture to remind myself to go back in the morning and try again. I didn’t unfortunately. One of those missed photography regrets that I won’t forget.

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We had arrived at the Myrtlewood Factory after closing hours and from what I read online the owner of the factory required permission before parking there. We tried calling but no answer. So in order not to have him irked at us we got up very early and pulled out, but before departing Girabaldi I wanted to see the harbor one more time. There is a municipal park with easy parking for our motorhome and car and nearby are a couple more RV parks in this tiny town. 

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Next up was an RV park at the Tillamook Airport. 50+ sites with no hookups (a couple of water spigots) and very few RV’s made for a nice quiet respite. While there the rate went up from $12 to $15 and the maintenance worker said there is talk of putting in a dump station.

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The views were pretty good too and with only one or two small planes landing or leaving each day there wasn’t much going on at the small airport. 

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We had only intended to stay 3 or 4 days until Steve noticed a black growth on Molly’s leg. Right away I knew it was melanoma and we got her into the Tillamook Veterinary Hospital. Molly had surgery a few days later and we learned that melanoma on a dog is not necessarily malignant. If it is on a hairy area the chances of non-malignancy are 80% and so it was with Molly. However, the doctor did a thorough checkup and several other issues came up. A urinary tract infection, collarette (a skin staph infection), Cushings Disease, and a spot on her head that also had to be surgically removed.  She was put on antibiotics and we were told to come back in two weeks to get the stitches removed and have further blood work done to confirm Cushings Disease.

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While staying in Tillamook we drove the Three Capes Scenic Loop

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The Cape Meares Lighthouse is only one of two lighthouses in the country with an eight sided Fresnel lens. The other one is in Hawaii. This was our favorite of the three capes as it is located in a state park with trails along the ocean and in a forest where you can see the historic Octopus Tree. No fees.

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We didn’t want to stay in Tillamook for two more weeks as there was no place to dump the tanks. We did drive to a county campground in the hills one time but that turned out to be too long a drive on a narrow and winding road to do that task more than once. So we drove a little further south to Lincoln City and parked at the Chinook Winds Casino. They now have a special lot for RVs and also a requirement to register and get a players card in the casino. 40 points are needed to park for 3 days or 100 points for a week. One point = one dollar but if the machine is not a total loser some money will be spit back out. All in all it cost us $6 to earn a one week stay. But we ended up staying 19 nights and my lips are sealed!  Great buffet took most of our money but we still spent less than at an RV park so no regrets.  Listening to the ocean waves every night was priceless!

Two weeks after Molly’s surgery we took her to the Animal Hospital in Lincoln City which I highly recommend for their reasonable and knowledgable service. Actually the Veterinary Hospital in Tillamook was very, very good too. The veterinarian in Lincoln City took out the stitches and reviewed the medical records from the surgery and checkup. She was impressed how thoroughly everything was documented. At the same time she explained that Cushings Disease is not life or death and is not causing Molly discomfort. The series of blood tests to prove Cushings is uncomfortable and subsequent treatment is more for the convenience of the owners as one of the symptoms is that the dogs drink a lot of water and thus need to go outside often. We are used to that and it doesn’t bother us. Molly is 12 and at this point we are not going to put her through painful tests and procedures if we don’t absolutely have to.  She has never minded going to the vet but the minute we got out of the car at the clinic in Lincoln City she locked her legs and wouldn’t budge. She knew where she was although she hadn’t been there previously.  Enough.

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Stayed tuned for the rest of the Oregon segment

Wyoming to Washington

After leaving the Flaming Gorge in southern Wyoming, we cut over to the western most highway in Wyoming to make our way north.

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Western Wyoming is evidently receiving more rain than usual.

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An old abandoned house where the property seems to be semi-maintained.

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Sure wonder about these old structures and who lived here how long ago.

We spent one night in the quaint little town of Cokeville, sight of a school hostage situation by the town’s former marshall and his wife back in the early 1980’s. Last night Steve noticed a movie on Netflix called Cokeville and we plan to watch it for the whole story.

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I thought it was a mirage when we saw a Flying J Truck Plaza, normally located on busy interstate highways, in little tiny Cokeville but here it is. Great place to spend the night as the trucks are on the opposite side of the station and there sure isn’t any traffic here. When we woke up in the morning there was a young couple sleeping on the ground in sleeping bags beside our motorhome. Guess they felt safe and unseen there.

Alpine, Wyoming is another small town in a pretty setting of meadows, mountains, the coming together of three rivers, and a huge lake called Palisades Reservoir. There are many new houses and businesses going up and soon the town won’t be so small.

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Alpine, Wyoming in the distance

We stayed three nights in an RV park in order to have a base to visit Grand Teton National Park. It’s a short, very scenic drive across a mountain range and along the Snake River to Jackson and the park.

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The magnificent Tetons. I stood on top of the Jackson dam and took picture after picture on this perfect day. Steve and I were in this spot 19 years ago but it was overcast and drizzly and I didn’t see what was so Grand about the Tetons then.

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Still standing on the dam, we can turn around and see the headwaters of the Snake River.

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This is one of the few times that we wished we didn’t have a dog so that we could take a boat ride on Jenny Lake and take some nice walks. It was too hot to leave Molly in the car, we didn’t want to leave her clear back in Alpine in the motorhome for a long day, and dogs aren’t allowed anywhere in Grant Teton NP except the parking lots.

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This is an Elk refuge between Jackson and Teton NP. I can’t resist photographing reflections.

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We left Alpine and followed the 18 miles long reservoir, which the Snake River flows into,
towards Idaho Falls where we had an appointment to get the leveler repaired. The RV repair facility told us the leveler had to be replaced as the shaft was broken and the cost to replace would be about $1500! Steve already knew he could install a new one himself and we decided to just order one when we got situated for a period of time. At least they didn’t charge us for the diagnosis.Idaho Falls has a pretty little park along the Snake River that allows 24 hour RV parking with a free dump and water. We did stay our allowed 24 hours but would not do so again as it is a gathering place for sketchy looking characters staying in tents and derelict motor homes. The police patrolled continuously and made one arrest that we saw.

Continuing on the next day, we drove north on the beautiful highway 93 in Idaho. Actually it is more than beautiful, it is breathtaking! There are not many cars driving this route and the going is slow but we were not rushed for time. Mackay is another quaint little town with free RV parking in a little rest area with water and dump and with straight on views of the highest mountain in Idaho, Mount Borah. It is almost 300 miles from Butte City, ID to Missoula, MT on highway 93 but every mile was so pretty.

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Mount Borah, highest mountain in Idaho. I had to laugh at the Main Street sign in this otherwise remote looking setting.

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Along highway 93.  Just can’t get away from power lines and signs.

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The Salmon River along highway 93

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Once in Missoula, our two lane highway driving days were over for a while. We stayed the night in the Walmart parking lot in Missoula before heading on to Washington the next day. We still had some time until our expensive RV park reservation on the Olympic Peninsula would begin so we decided to be extra thrifty and stay at a casino on the westside of Spokane. The Northern Quest casino has marked off RV spots and allows a free stay of up to 7 nights. There is a gas station right next door with dump and water and we were all set to not spend any money for a while.

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The Northern Quest Casino has many restaurants. We especially liked the buffet and the Asian restaurant.  That is our little blue tow car – 13 years old and still like new.

But first we had to register with security. Steve wanted a beer which meant we had to go into the casino part. They had a no smoking room of machines and so I got a complimentary soft drink while Steve drank his beer. The only place to sit at was at a slot machine. What the heck! Seven free overnights and free non-alcohol beverages; I might as well give the casino $10 in the penny machine I was sitting by. That $10 turned into $150! But wait, there is more. Instead of the machine spitting out coins or cash, it gave me a ticket worth $150. The cashiers cage in the non-smoking room was closed and I didn’t want to go into the huge smoking part of the casino just yet. I held onto it until the next day to cash in but on the way to the cashiers cage stopped at the same two side by side penny machines and my $150 ticket turned into a $446 ticket! Wow! Okay, next day, I can’t possibly win again. But I did, and on the same two machines. The $446 became $782!! Day 4, I didn’t go to the casino. Day 5, I lost $130 of my winnings. Day 6, I lost $25. We had one more free day coming but I told Steve we had to leave before I lost even more. $627 ahead, not bad at all!

Finally, the day I had been waiting for so long to come was here and that was crossing the Cascades. The east side of the Cascades are brown and dry but slowly and surely the brown gives way to a greener and wetter scenery along with the allergy killing climate I crave. There are four or five highways that cross the Cascades in Washington. We had been across the three most northern ones but this time took the least traveled, two lane highway 12.

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Getting closer to the Cascades and our windshield is bug splattered but I liked how the lighting reflected on this bridge. I could edit like crazy but if I had to do that I might never get a post done!

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Nearing the top of the pass to cresting the Cascades, we came across a beautiful lake that was so still. This is actually the smaller part on my passenger side of the motorhome.

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On the fly, no choice but to take this through my screened window. I sure miss small and nimble Tulip sometimes because there was no place to pull over with our big motorhome towing a car.

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Such a pretty lake

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Mt. Rainier, highest mountain in Washington

We have driven to the Northwest from Colorado many times but by far this was the most scenic and enjoyable trip of all. You can’t beat the two lane roads.

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Highway 191 to the Flaming Gorge was an easy drive and nothing to worry about.  It did climb for quite a while but the so-called switchbacks were wide and gradual.  Once we reached the south end of the gorge we opted to drive along the west side.

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Flaming Gorge is the largest reservoir in Wyoming but his part of the gorge is in Utah. We thought the Utah side was the prettiest.  That is Steve driving in front of me because we thought towing would be difficult which it would not have been after all.

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Every place we have been has evidently had a good amount of rain. So nice to see instead of the usual brown, particularly in Wyoming.

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We stayed in the gorge at the Lucerne Valley Campground. It is a national park service campground and marina making for plenty of space between motorhomes and reasonable prices.  For some reason I neglected to get pictures of the lake right out front but you can see the faintest strip of blue in front of the mountains. This campground is used mostly by boaters that spend their days on the lake.

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We worked one whole day in the kitchen cooking dishes to have for travel days.  This is a bread with no flour and contains flax seeds, chia seeds, nuts, oatmeal, psyllium husk, and a few other goodies.

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We got up early this morning for what was planned to be a long driving day. However…..

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You wouldn’t believe how many pictures I have taken of Steve on the ground lately: Fixing a leak under the sink, cleaning my Belgian throw rug that a carafe of coffee spilled on, taking apart the steering column because the GPS cord got jammed in there somehow, and on the floor in front of the slide trying to figure out why it was making little grooves in the floor (tiny gravel).  

I took the above picture this morning when Steve was troubleshooting why one of our leveling jacks wouldn’t go up. Steve thought it was a gear which is more difficult than an electrical problem to repair.  I was reading everything I could on the internet on how to fix it but then had to go to the office because we were going past our checkout time. The lady in the office said “no problem, your site is free for the next 4 days if you need to stay.” Then her husband hopped on his golf cart and dashed over to help Steve. His solution was different and much easier than any I found on the internet.  They wired the jack up so it wouldn’t fall, then drove to a ditch, positioned Alice where the jack hung over the ditch, and took the wire off so the jack would fall out. It’s not a permanent fix but at least we could leave and go somewhere for a repair. We just have to find level places to overnight in the meantime.

Montrose to Dinosaur National Monument

Montrose has grown so much over the years. We used to live 70 miles north and went through Montrose often going back and forth to see family in Colorado Springs. I always thought it and Gunnison looked similar and were about the same size. Not anymore as Montrose just keeps growing and growing. If someone held a gun to my head and said I had to live in Colorado and to choose a town, it would be Montrose. This western side of Colorado is not nearly as congested as the Denver/Colorado Springs corridor and I think it is much prettier and has closer access to more beautiful mountains.

The reason we stopped in Montrose was to visit friend Janet who had recently relocated from the Oregon coast. She and her boys had just moved into a new townhouse less than two weeks prior to our visit and although she didn’t ask, Steve made some repairs for her and installed a new kitchen faucet.

While in Montrose, we stayed two nights at a nearby municipal park that allows free RV parking and as an added bonus it was quiet and on the Uncompaghre River that has a few miles of walking and biking trails.

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One day we all drove to the next town south,Ridgway. It is a cute little western styled town with wonderful views of the San Juan mountains, also known as Little Switzerland. Ridgway has an old western cafe called True Grit for John Wayne whose movie of the same name was made in the area. The walls are covered with his pictures and movie posters. We had eaten at True Grit several years previous and knew it had great food. I was jealous of Steve and Janet with their tacos,burgers, and sweet potato fries but stuck to the vegan offering on the menu which although healthy, wasn’t too good. So I made up for it afterwards with bread pudding and rum sauce. Absolute heaven! The best bread pudding I have ever had and enough for all three of us to share.

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Normally the views of the San Juans are stunning from Ridgway but the weather did not cooperate on this day.

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This is an old picture, so old I had to scan it, taken from Ridgeway State Park of the San Juans.

Our next stop was Grand Junction but just for one night as the next morning we had a new windshield installed. The upper corner of the windshield shattered and the cause was torquing or flexing the body of the motorhome due to incorrect use of the levelers. I could write an entire post on all the things that have gone wrong in this motorhome and in each case it was human caused. Sigh……

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Next we headed to Dinosaur National Monument in the corners of NW Colorado and NE Utah. Because Grand Junction is well west of big mountains, I assumed the drive north to Dinosaur would be flat and I didn’t do my homework which unfortunately is now necessary with a bigger motorhome and tow vehicle. There was a pass to cross called Douglas where the climb seemed to go on forever with many very sharp and steep hairpin turns. I did get nervous.

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Near the top of Douglas Pass

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It is much farther down than it looks.

I have never been interested in going to Dinosaur National Monument because I thought the area would be very desolate and barren and also I don’t care to see bones, no matter how old they are. But we were tired of driving the same familiar highways to the northwest and decided to try something different. It was a big surprise to find out the area is just beautiful with multi-colored cliffs, the swift flowing Green River, and even some mountains.

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This is Split Mountain Campground with mostly tents but it is where the rafters enter the river

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So many colors in every direction

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The Green River isn’t green here – maybe somewhere else along it’s course?

We stayed at the Green River National Park Service campground in a shady spot along the river. No hookups but there was good water and bathrooms and best of all the price was a very reasonable $9 per night with our Golden Age Pass.

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Horses across the swift river from our campsite

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Green River Campground from above

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Great views of Split Mountain from the campground

After Dinosaur the plan was to drive to the Flaming Gorge. This time I did my homework and should not have. Several of the RV forums had threads about the highway from Vernal, Utah through the Flaming Gorge and recommendations NOT to drive it with a motorhome as it was steep and winding. I looked at Google Maps terrain feature and it looked like we had to go straight up a steep mountain. What to do? Should we detour way out of the way?